Murphy Prototypes has overcome the challenge it faced after a crash in Free Practice in Wednesday to qualify in a respectable 8th position in the LMP2 class for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ex-Grand Prix driver Karun Chandhok took out the Oreca 03R-Nissan to begin with in what were wet conditions on the track after a brief downpour, however it was team-mate Mark Patterson who fell afoul of the drying track as he pushed to find more grip and speed. Patterson had a spin as a result in the Porsche Curves which ended up with contact against the barrier and causing the session to be red flagged.
The team set to work repairing the LMP2 car in the three hour gap between Free Practice and the first Qualifying session, replacing the suspension, bodywork and other items on the car, to get it ready to go out again. With twenty-five minutes left in the session, Natanael Berthon took the car out to set a banker lap that confirmed the team would start ahead of the slower GTE class entries. In the second Qualifying session on Thursday, Berthon took the fully repaired car out again and set the 4th fastest time in class.
Patterson took over driving duties in the car and put any dears and side effects to rest from his practice crash in the now much hotter and grippier session. However, after the GTE Corvette crash brought the session to an end, all three drivers drove their mandatory five lap stints in the dark to secure 8th place in LMP2 and start 20th overall for the race.
Team Principal Greg Murphy praised the team’s effort to get the car back on track and set out the target for the weekend.
“The team did a great job to get the car back to 100% following Mark’s unfortunate moment. It’s clear from the times we achieved in the qualifying sessions that we’re back on the same pace we were during the official test. So, our sights are well are truly set – as they have always been – on an LMP2 podium position this weekend.”
Nathanael Berthon and Karun Chandhok share the view that the teams race pace will be better than their qualifying pace.
“With the traffic and changing track conditions I was not able to do a perfect lap. I think there’s more to come from the car too, so I believe we can improve on our qualifying times in the race,” said Berthon.
“Having not driven since yesterday afternoon, it was good to get back in the car for the final Qualifying session. From how the car felt this evening, I think we have a better race pace than qualifying pace, which is good news for the weekend,” explained Chandhok.
Mark Patterson is learning more and more as the week progresses towards the race itself: “I was pleased to be in the car this evening and to get back behind the wheel following what happened yesterday. Karun gave me some useful tips and I could see where to make up time, so I’m feeling confident for the race. I must also give a big thanks to the guys in the pits for fixing the car I broke. They did a great job.”